A Charitable Concept: Donated Portrait Sessions
Gift Certificates Auctioned Off at Fund-raising Events
by Dawdy Photography
One of our most successful marketing programs involves donating portrait sessions to local schools and nonprofit groups to help their fund-raising efforts. Instead of writing checks to the organizations, we give them gift certificates for their auctions. Guests who bid on and win the portrait session pay the organizations directly.
We promote these projects in several ways. Each auction publishes a booklet to hand out to guests, so we make sure the auction booklets contain all the relevant information about our studio. We also display our work at each event, setting up easels and photographs near the bidding sheet for our gift certificate.
Usually the person asking for the donation is a client and friend. When someone less familiar with our business stops by for the gift certificate for an auction, we give her a tour of our studio and let her see what we do. The tour itself is a great marketing tool.
We’ve learned that women active in volunteer projects have a lot of friends and talk to a lot of people, who are all prospective clients. They are loyal and like doing business with companies that are sympathetic to their causes. We’ve also learned that having photos on display, giving guests an idea of the type of photographs they can win, makes the bidding go up.
We feel that those who bid on the portrait session were going to donate to the charity in some way. When they see our portraits, they realize they have always wanted to have a family portrait done, so they don’t mind spending the money. They usually end up being loyal clients.
These fund-raisers always have an immediate impact on our business. The free advertising and word of mouth help build our client base. By getting new clients—some of whom wouldn’t have called for an appointment without the incentive—we are seeing a rise in revenue.
The increased recognition our studio receives in the community, and the new business that recognition brings, allows us to charge prices that clients are willing to pay for our time and talent.
Faye and Tom Dawdy (www.dawdyphoto.com), in Millbrae, California, are celebrating their 30th year in professional photography. Well-known as children’s photographers from their articles and seminars, the Dawdys have a full-service storefront studio with a diversified clientele.